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A pick-up truck (or ute) that has been turned into an SUV – it’s not a new idea in the automotive world.

Indeed, the Mitsubishi Challenger, Isuzu MU-X, Holden Colorado 7 and that category’s newest arrival – the Toyota Fortuner – are all based on their respective ute siblings (Triton, D-Max, Colorado and HiLux).

The Australian-engineered Ford Everest is – for argument’s sake – no different: it is based on the Ford Ranger ute, but adopts a different wheelbase, different rear suspension and a bunch of different interior/exterior finishes. If they were parked side by side the average punter may not pick it, but to car nuts, the buddy system is clear.

To deny the link between the two would seem odd, particularly given that both vehicles have been developed with Ford Australia’s engineering and design nous at the forefront. Indeed, the company claims the Everest has been “the centrepiece of Ford’s almost $2 billion R&D investment in Australia the past six years”.

Ford Everest drive 116

It’s not like Ford is new to building an SUV off a ute platform globally, either.

Heck, years ago Ford had an SUV known as the Raider that was built upon the Courier ute of its day, around about the same time as the Toyota HiLux-based 4Runner was on sale.

However, Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman told CarAdvice at the local launch of the new Ranger ute that the brand won’t be trying to establish the link between the ute and the new Everest SUV.

ford-everest-2

Instead, Whickman said the Everest will have the Toyota Prado in its sights, rather than the arguably more realistic target of the Fortuner or other vehicles of that ilk.

“It’s not a ute-based competitor. If you want to put it in front of a Colorado 7 or whatever you want to put there, it’s not in that space,” Whickman asserted.

“Without being too specific, you know that the Prado was in our minds when we were engineering the vehicle,” he said.

2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak_05

Still, there are shortcomings compared with the Prado, despite the pricing of the Ford creeping well into Prado territory, particularly at the top end. The seven-seat SUV at $54,990 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Ambiente, $60,990 plus on-road costs for the mid-spec Trend and $74,990 plus on-roads for the flagship Titanium; Toyota’s diesel Prado line-up starts at $51,990 for the (five-seat) GX through to $84,490 for the range-topping Kakadu diesel.

The Everest is physically smaller than the Prado, despite both offering seating for seven (Ford: 4892 millimetres long, 1860mm wide 1837mm tall and 2850mm wheelbase; Toyota: 4930mm long; 1885mm wide; 1880mm tall and 2790mm wheelbase).

And crucially for long-distance drivers (of which Australia has its fair share) there’s no long-range fuel tank in the the Everest. The Prado has an 87-litre main tank and 63L sub-tank, where the Everest has 80L capacity only.

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“There’s horses for courses in terms of the specification and some of the engineering behind it, and the attributes of the vehicles. There might be a number of things I could pitch to you Prado doesn’t [have or do], but it doesn’t feel like a constructive discussion.

“If you’ve got a point of view, that’s fine. But at the end of the day we’ve pitched it into the market, we think that we can go head to head, and ultimately the proof will be in the pudding,” Whickman said.

“I don’t want to get in to an ugly discussion around difference of opinion. Hopefully I’m right.”

More: Ford Everest review
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More: Ford Ranger review
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More: Toyota Prado update




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